Aaaaaaah! I’ve just deleted the Recycle Bin from my Desktop!
My PC runs Vista. Unlike other versions of Windows, Vista has a pull-down list on the Recycle Bin with a Delete option as well as the Empty Recycle Bin option. If Delete is chosen, the Recycle Bin isn’t emptied – it is removed from the Desktop!
Fortunately, the Recycle Bin is not actually deleted, but the path to restoring it, although easy to follow, is not easy to find.
The first time I deleted it was traumatic but I found a tip on Google. There are millions on
the Vista Recycle Bin!
It was only when it happened again that I realised that I hadn’t followed the advice I give to my students and colleagues on learning and practice. So the second time I had to do the Google search I made a careful mental note of the steps needed, and also to come back and check I could still remember them before I logged off.
I was reminded of this helpful idea when I read Tracy Hamilton’s recent post, Laughing at my own memory lost - Use it or Lose it. I also recalled the related comment I left on Tony Karrer's Tool Set 2009.
See > Note > Act > Practice (SNAP)
Teachers today require a high level of ICT competency, in addition to their understanding of subject knowledge, pedagogy and teaching practice. But the 21st Century teacher doesn’t need much more in the way of basic ICT skills than a late 20th Century teacher did. Certainly keeping up with the latest ICT developments and updates is a part, but then, isn’t that always the case in ICT?
The need is for a clear pathway for the learner to apply the learning once delivered, by whatever means – conversation, professional development program, whether on-the-job or in a formal training class.
It is embraced in the so-called cognitive apprentice theory that experts in a skill often don’t consider hidden processes involved in carrying out complex skills when they are teaching/instructing newcomers.
Situated professional development programs can be used to make this happen, instead of defining a prescription for particular technology competencies that learners must have and be able to use.
Often, learners have difficulty learning raw content. They may not be able to see exactly how raw know-how can be applied as it may have no relevance to them at the time and so they don't learn and remember.
Situated learning that grounds learning experiences in the learner’s own practice may well be more successful and a situated professional development technology program can serve the needs of the learners’ specific technology within their own learning environment.
But learners can do a lot of this for themselves.
Practice and metacognition
Whatever skill/knowledge/concept the learner has first learnt should be practiced soon as - the same day. This means that any training that is given should take into account the opportunity the learner may have to practice the same day and try out their newly acquired skill.
Mini projects that can be used by the learner after learning sessions always helps with this. This also applies to an on-the-job conversation where the learner picks up a tip or piece of advice that may well be useful to them in the future.
Learning to write little reminders when first shown something and then to practice it immediately afterwards is paramount to putting what's learnt into use and maintaining it. It is in the category of what’s called metacognition.
The mantra is learn and practice soon as.
As well, last thing on a Friday is a no-no for training/learning simply because of this whole principle of practice soon as. You can say ta-ta to what you're shown last thing on a Friday by the time Monday arrives. You rarely consolidate what you’ve learnt over the weekend!
When a helpful IT technician comes to show me how to do something on my PC on a Friday, I always say, “Can you show me on Monday? I’ll send you an email - I'll come round and you can show me then.”
Then I send the email AND cc it to myself.
I recall some years ago getting computer training on the last days of the year! Forget it! I may as well have!
Three tiers of technology competency
Acquiring technology competency has at least three components to it. They are to do with concept (c), training (t) and practice (p). Take knowing where to find the ‘attach and email’ function for instance.
The know-how to use the ‘attach and email’ function in Word 2007 comes with a bit of t & p and the end result is swifter and less cumbersome than other methods. But the ‘concept’ that a newly created Word document can be attached immediately to an email, and that the email application is invoked automatically while this process is being brought into effect is more than mere t & p.
The learner who has never met this idea is very unlikely to think of looking for the function on any new version of a computer application in order to use it. Thankfully in most instances the c comes with t & p but not always.
It’s not all just learning how to. My feeling is that there are at least 3 tiers of competency in any set of related skills:
- concept - such as Send to Mail Recipient as Attachment (just get your head round the c idea)
- knowledge that a function exists on the application/program used (t but also needs c),
- knowing how to use it on a specific app/program (c and t & p).
Remember the mantra? Learn and practice soon as (SNAP!)